BYRON BYRON 11782 posts

F I R S T – I M P R E S S I O N S:

  1. Unflattering colours.
  2. Awkward balance / composition.


Brand / Manufacturer: not advised

Model: not advised

Lens: not advised


Aperture / F-Stop: not advised

Shutter Speed: not advised

ISO/ASA: not advised

Focal Length: not advised


Exposure: Very dark but reasonably even.

Lighting: From directly ahead.

Colour Saturations: Good saturation, but uninteresting – orange and dirty blues.

Focus / Depth of Field: Hard to determine focus and DOF since all elements are very far away.

Sharpness: Image appears to be acceptably sharp.

Score (out of 10 points): 3

Look at this image by PHATPUPPY

Phatpuppy has positioned the horizon lower within the frame which has really featured the sky which contains a lot of detail and interest. The Primary Subject has been placed to the left of the [vertical] centre-line which has created a pleasant balance by utilising Negative Space.

Phatpuppy has also zoomed in on the Primary Subject which features it well in the frame, and by positioning the Primary Subject in front of the sun they have silhoetted the subject but also allowed the sun to shine thru the sails which has created bold colour which would otherwise be lacking.

Also, by placing the Primary Subject in front of the sun, Phatpuppy has effectively blocked out the excessive light which has allowed for a longer exposure with greater colour saturations and detail – especially in the sky and the near side of the boat.

Note also how the island in the background is evenly placed across the image.


Aesthetics / General appearance: Peggy, your image is rather dark both in terms of colour and emotion. This is typical of this style where you have pointed the camera at the sun – it creates silhoettes and contains very little detail or range of colour.

Emotional Content: I don’t feel a lot looking at your image. The only real subject is the speed boat, and it is too far away for me to really connect with it. There is also too little detail for me to maintain interest in any other part of the image.

Storytelling ability / Creative communication of a concept or idea: Its a boat on the water. It doesn’t really tell me much at all. There is very little activity.

Originality: Not very. It seems more like a record shot of a sunset than anything else.

Score (out of 10 points): 3

Look at this image by BENSOUND

Bensound is renowned for high quality images with amazing compositions and colour saturations.

See how your eyes are drawn to the rock right at the bottom of the image, then your eyes move to the rock in the mid-ground before being drawn onto the sun?

Bensound has also placed the horizon on the top 1/3rd line which creates a classical balance between the sky and the ocean with a ratio of 1:2.

Bensound has also used a ND Filter which has allowed for a 3 second exposure while shooting directly into the sun! This has allowed Bensound to capture incredible colour saturations and exceptional fine detail in all POI’s.

_By using a very small aperture [f22] Bensound has guaranteed huge Depth of Field and maintained focus in all areas. The use of f22 with the sun just breaching the horizon has meant that Bensound was also able to capture in-camera the “Starburst Effect” or flaring of the sun, which has added further long-term interest tothis image._


Framing / Cropping: Peggy, your image is a bit predictable – the horizon is nearly on the centre-line of the image – dividing the image into two halves. [I know that the water-line is pretty much on the lower 1/3rd position, but it is overpowered by the mountains and the sun and as a result the horizon appears to be much higher than it actually is, within the frame]

Simplicity of Design: Very simple design, but it does not really work here. There needs to be more elements in the frame to help maintain interest.

Points of Interest: A boat, and the sun. The boat is too small and too close to the mountains in the background. The boat should be lower so that it stands out more, and I think you should have zoomed in much tighter on the boat.

Rule of Thirds: Not used here, and I think it would have helped. Drop the horizon to the lower third line, and wait for the boat to be on a 1/3rd line from the right or the left.

Lines & Diagonals: not apllicable.

Balance / Use of Negative Space: This image feels awkwardly out of balance [see Rule of Thirds, above]. Negative Space has not been used to balance the other elements [the boat and the sun].

Score (out of 10 points): 3


Peggy, there are a lot of problems with this image. None of which can really be corrected in Post-Production.

My primary concerns are with the composition.

Shooting into the sun will create silhoettes and minimal range of colours, so you need to create interest with shapes as opposed to detail. To do this you need to get much closer than you have here.

Wide-angle sunset shots are a dime a dozen, and they are all predictable. You could have used a longer lens to really feature the boat and make the sun much larger. [Zoom lenses “shorten” the distance between elements of your image and will make them appear much larger in the frame.]

I think the image would be much better if you had composed it this way:

Sun in top left corner, boat passing through the sun’s reflection on the water and positioned on the lower right side. If you could position yourself so the suns reflection went diagonally from top left to lower right – that would be even better.

This image also suffers from a lack of POI. It is generally a good idea to include three 3 POI in landscapes to give the viewer more to look at and thereby create more long-term interest.

A good way to position the three POI is:

  1. 1x POI in the foreground. This “anchors” the image and gives the viewer a “starting-point”.
  2. 1x POI in the mid-ground. This gives the viewer somewhere to look next.
  3. 1x POI in the background. This gives the viewer a “finishing-point” to look at before returning to the foreground.

This creates a sense of “movement” because of the way the viewer’s eyes move back and forth through the image. It works best if you can position these POI’s in such a way that they create a diagonal movement through the image. Diagonal lines are intrinsically attractive.

At the moment, your image has nothing in the foreground to create any interest or “anchor” the image. We dont see anything until we get to the mid-ground, but the POI [boat] is just too small to be effective, and the sun is too small and too bright – it grabs too much of our attention, then we look around the image for more – but find nothing.

Too effectively shoot into the sun you need to under-expose.

You can not get a “proper” exposure here because the sun is in front of you – all you will get are dark colours from your silhoetted subjects, so under-expose and silhoette them properly and forget about colours and “correct” exposures. Your camera has tried its best here – but it can only do so much when it tries to average everything out.

When shooting into sooo much light, you really need to use filters, either a Polariser, or preferably a Neutral Density Filter. For sunsets I would recommend a -3EV ND Filter. This is very dark, but it will even-out the bright light and allow you to recover a lot of the image in post-production. It will also help improve colour saturations and tonal gradations.

Total Score (out of 30 points): 9

Peggy Berger Peggy Berger 802 posts

Ah – SO helpful. Thanks so much … Bensound is already one of my favorites and I do see what you mean about his photo. OK, fortunately I can go back to this exact spot next summer and try again. I’m sorry I didn’t put the EXIF info in, but it doesn’t matter, it was all wrong anyway, obviously. I love to shoot sunsets and this will be so helpful – I’m going to print it out and put it in my backpack. Thanks Byron – hopefully I’ll break 10 next time!! The one by Phatpuppy is fabulous – now that I see these I also see how boring mine is. Onward and upward!